AIC gives ANC March ultimatum on Matatiele agreement

Johannesburg – The fragile ANC-led coalitions in the Ekurhuleni and Rustenburg councils are again under threat as the party faces an ultimatum from the African Independent Congress (AIC).

The AIC says it wrote a letter to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe giving the party until March to address its demand for Matatiele to be reincorporated into KwaZulu-Natal or face "decisions which might not be favourable" to the coalition.

This was at the heart of the agreement reached by the parties in exchange for the AIC voting with the ANC in the recent local elections, allowing the ruling party to govern the two municipalities in Gauteng and the North West.

"It is regrettable that the AIC feels that your organisation is not taking all these seriously," said the party in the letter.

The AIC, which was formed in protest of the demarcation of Matatiele into the Eastern Cape, became an unlikely kingmaker in the two municipalities after the ANC failed to win an outright majority.

Talks between the two parties to reverse the decision have been dragging on since the August local government elections.

'Floodgate of problems'

The AIC's key demand was Matatiele's incorporation back into KZN, but it also wanted the region to be declared a nodal point, roads to be tarred and the re-opening of the Maluti College.

Mantashe said the two parties are set to meet on Sunday, with discussions led by ANC national executive committee member and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.

Speaking to editors on Tuesday, Mantashe said it was not an easy matter to address. He explained that this could open a "floodgate of problems" with other municipalities making similar calls to the ruling party, but said engagements continued with the AIC.

"It's not just an easy decision, it's about what is the right thing to do," added Mantashe.

The AIC matter was described as complex by Mantashe's deputy Jessie Duarte who said provincial boundaries were not changed "willy-nilly" and that such decisions had to go through parliamentary processes which required in-depth research.

ANC 'too busy with succession'

However, Duarte did say the ANC understood the sentiments of the AIC and was engaging with the much smaller party.

AIC president Mandla Galo said he found the challenges expressed by the ANC surprising. He told News24 the ruling party had responded positively just after the municipal elections to their demand on August 14, 2016.

Galo said the AIC was still waiting for confirmation of a time and venue for the meeting on Sunday.

"The ANC has been too busy with succession to commit to engagements it has made," said Galo.

The ANC's national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa denied that Mantashe had received the letter.

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